Factors that Effect the Drivability of Power Wheelchairs and Scooters
Eric Brindle1,2 ; Alicia M. Koontz PhD, RET1,2 ; Padmaja Kankipati, MS1 ; David Feathers, PhD3
(1) Human Engineering Research Laboratories, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
(2) Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh
(3) Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University


Wheelchairs are often cited as a major limiting factor hindering participation due to environmental barriers present in the community. A diverse sample of experienced scooter and wheelchair users from Buffalo and Pittsburgh (N=104) were recruited to determine minimum space requirements for current PWCs and scooters. Participants completed an L-turn, a 360° turn, and two types of U-turns. The results show that the ADA guidelines for hallway widths are outdated and would cause problems for a large portion of the wheelchair population. The data from this study will be useful for updating building codes as well as for making transportation more accessible for individuals who rely on powered mobility. Moreover, clinicians will know the design attributes that influence maneuverability in confined spaces.

Key Words

Power Wheelchair, Scooter, Maneuverability, Access, Standards


This study was funded by the US Access Board Project #070213 and the National Science Foundation (EEC 0552351). The authors would also like to thank Dr. Edward Steinfeld, Director RERC Universal Design for his oversight of this research project and contributions to the project.


Eric Brindle, Human Engineering Research Laboratory, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, 7180 Highland Dr., Building 4, 252se, Pittsburgh, PA 15206; email: edb12@pitt.edu